The Arts and the Imago Dei, Part II

In an earlier post I stated that the doctrine of the imago dei says that we have at least three things:
1. The divine mandate to have dominion over the earth
2.  The mental, physical, and spiritual ability to obey that mandate
3. The innate spark of the creative drive

The second thing the doctrine of the imago dei teaches is that God has given us gifts to accomplish this dominion: natural and spiritual gifts. Here is a passage from Exodus, chapters 35 and 36.

Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers . . .So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded."


For many people, their natural gifts are obvious. These gifts manifest themselves at an early age and parents and teachers are able to recognize those gifts and give wise guidance in employing their gifts. But, sometimes natural gifts are not so obvious. This becomes particularly difficult for children who are friends with those with obvious gifts. The difficulty arises when children, youth, and adults see others with clearly defined natural abilities being given attention, admiration, even adulation and they decide (either consciously or subconsciously) that they can win the attention, admiration and adulation of people by embracing an activity done by those people they admire.

But what if that is not their natural gift? How can we give guidance to children, youth, or even adults who have not yet discovered the natural gifts that God has given them? One thing we might do is to understand Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. Dr. Gardner defines intelligence as “A biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture.” (Howard Gardner. Intelligence Reframed, 33-34. Gardner’s eight intelligences include:

  • Bodily / Kinesthetic Intelligence
  • Verbal / Linguistic Intelligence
  • Visual / Spatial Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Intelligence
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence
  • Logical / Mathematical Intelligence
  • Naturalistic Intelligence
  • Musical / Rhythmic Intelligence

Just as God gives all believers different spiritual gifts; so has he given all people different natural gifts (intelligences / abilities).  In neither case do we get to choose! 

As believers we are expected to live in obedience to God. When we operate under His authority, not only does the church operate harmoniously, but we are happier. When we operate outside his authority, the church suffers and we can become unhappy.

When we try to operate outside the gifts that God has given us; whether spiritual or natural; we are living in disobedience. The result is strife in the church and our witness before a lost world is damaged.

Dr. William B. "Barry" Wilson holds a Master of Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a 
Doctor of Worship Studies from The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. He has served thirty-three years as a minister of music in Southern Baptist Churches; is currently an adjunct instructor at Midlands Technical College and Southern Wesleyan University; and is an online instructor for Regent University, Nazarene Bible College, Indiana Wesleyan University, and the University of Louisiana/Monroe. Dr. Wilson plays semi-professional trumpet and flugelhorn in Columbia, South Carolina where he lives with his wife and their six cats.